Jess Stephens, eighth grade Social Studies teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, was selected from over 400 applicants to attend the 2018 William Friday Teachers Retreat Carolina Voices in honor of Wilma Dykeman on July 25 – 27th in Asheville, NC.
One of only 35 teachers chosen to attend, Stephens participated in the two and a half day academic retreat. Generously funded by the North Caroliniana Society and the Hillsdale Fund, Inc., the retreat focused on North Carolina history and literature.
“Much of what my eighth grade social studies students explore in class deals with the diverse and distinctive people and events that have occurred in our Tar Heel history,” said Stephens. “It was such a wonderful, immersive experience to attend this academic retreat and what I learned will be brought into my classroom daily.”
At the beginning of the school year, third grade teacher Ms. Gina planned a get together with her students and their families at a local pizza place. Ms. Gina does this each school year as a way to get to know her students and set the stage for a wonderful school year.
Second graders at The Learning Center Charter School engineer, build, test, design and troubleshoot every day. Why? Because STEM education extends to every student at the school no matter the age.
Second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper, engages her 7 and 8 year old students with STEM projects regularly. This fall she will have her students build pumpkin wagons, design scarecrows with specific construction standards that the students must meet, and engineer “turkey hideouts” to avoid the Thanksgiving table. The activities are seasonal but also fit squarely into the school’s STEM approach to education.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Our school takes it a step further by including entrepreneurship, arts and agriculture – E-STEAM.
Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director, says, “Cultivating an E-STEAM culture is the guiding philosophy for our school and within that we offer an amazing array of learning opportunities for our students – each and every student from kindergarten through eighth grade.”
The STEM activities that Hopper integrates into her everyday lessons are a prime example of that approach. “My students plan, design, engineer, test, and reconstruct each and every day. It’s just what we do.” Hopper adds that no student is too young to be introduced and challenged by this approach. “I’m always encouraging them to expand and improve upon a design. I ask how they can make it better, wider, taller, or hold more weight. The students always rise to the challenge too,” said Hopper.
The annual Parent Fair was held August 16, 2018 from 1:30-6:00 pm and served as way to inform and to provide parents of enrolled students with all of the “start-up” details for the upcoming school year. It also provided an opportunity for parents and the community to explore the full range of Learning Center offerings.
Sixth through eighth grade math teacher, Jess Stephens goes out of her way to make math approachable to her students at The Learning Center Charter School. Inspired by the book, Teach Like Your Hair’son Fire by Rafe Esquith, Stephens comes to class everyday prepared to replace her students’ fear of math with trust, positivity and fun.
Each day of the week is a specific theme for these middle school math students at the charter school. In additional to Mindset Mondays, Workout Wednesdays, and Throwback Thursdays, Stephens wears a tutu on Tuesdays.
“I constantly tell my students that they can be anything they want to be and on Tuesdays I want to be a tutu wearing princess,” says Stephens. “My ever changing silly tutu gets kids excited for Tuesday. The silliness increases engagement during class and, in my opinion, makes me more approachable.”
To learn more about math for all ages at The Learning Center Charter School, visit www.naturallygrownkids.org or call (828)835-7240.
The first day of the 2016-2017 school year is in the books and among the new backpacks, sneakers and t-shirts was lots of talk about the summer and what everyone did with their time. It’s only fair that teachers and staff share what they did during summer vacation as well.
As part of ongoing staff development, teachers spent time learning about trash and the serious consequences it poses to our environment as well as ways to reduce trash production. They also spent time reusing materials and turning trash into fashion.